Empowering dialysis users and caregivers
|'Death Panels' Redux - FactCheck.org|
Q: Did an emergency-room physician in a Tennessee hospital say the new health care law is currently denying dialysis to some Medicare patients, and will deny care to those over 75 in 2013?
A: No. A spokesman for the hospital says the doctor never said the things attributed to her in a chain email, and they are not true. A guest in the doctor’s home fabricated the account.
This email seems like hooey. Can you investigate? Thanks.
The frightening claims in this email about losing control of one’s health care decisions have caused consternation among some of our readership — particularly the fear of losing all health care after age 75. But fear not, this email is bunkum.
The email presents a veneer of authenticity. There is, in fact, a Johnson City Medical Center. It is a not-for-profit center located in Johnson City, Tenn., that serves as “a safety net hospital caring for the uninsured.” And there is a Dr. Suzanne Allen who works in emergency medicine at that center. But that is where any truth to this email ends.
We contacted Ed Herbert, a representative for the Johnson City Medical Center. He confirmed to us that the conversation quoted in the email is fraudulent. According to Herbert, a guest of Dr. Allen’s home created the untrue email to further a political point.
In addition to weaving a yarn based on a fake conversation with a doctor, the email is also factually inaccurate in its claims about the health care law. Nowhere in the thousands of pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 is there any mention of “ethics panels.” In addition to that, the law makes no mention of any provisions specifically affecting those 75 and older.
These panels are a relabeling of the infamous “death panels” used by detractors of the law two years ago. As we have said several times before, there are no death panels in the health care law. A provision to have Medicare cover the cost of optional end-of-life counseling spurred the claim, but was dropped from the bill before passage.
Others have claimed an Independent Payment Advisory Board created by the law will be charged with rationing care. The 15-member IPAB — made up of doctors and medical professionals, economists and health care management experts, and representatives for consumers and seniors — is tasked with finding ways to reduce the growth in Medicare spending. But as we have noted before, the law explicitly says that the IPAB’s proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums … increase Medicare beneficiary costsharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.” (See page 490.)
While this cock-and-bull story has spread well beyond its origin in Tennessee, there is no validity to the claims it makes and readers should feel free to purge it from their inboxes.
– Scott Blackburn
Herbert, Ed, a spokesman for the Johnson City Medical Center. Email sent to FactCheck.org. 19 Apr 2012.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Pub. L. 111-148. Enacted 23 Mar 2010.